of Mill Terms
Apprentice furrow- the third largest furrow in a quarter of a
millstone in quarter dress pattern, parallel and immediately adjacent to
the journeyman furrow on one side and the butterfly furrow on the other
Apron- Arc of stone or wooden placed behind a pitch back or beast shot
water wheel to prevent water from spilling from the buckets of the water
wheel before arriving at the lowest point of the fall.
Arms- Spokes extending from the main shaft of a water wheel, that
in turn support the shrouding or rims of the wheel, or spokes of a large
Back edge- the straight "back" edge opposite of the
grinding edge of a millstone furrow. It is also called the holding edge.
Back water or watering- is a condition when the stream rises during
a flood and the bottom of the water wheel becomes covered in water. This
is a greater problem with overshot water wheels than other types because
the water exits the wheel. With the overshot water wheel, water and sometimes
air becomes trapped inside the buckets when the water is suppose to exit
the buckets and retards it turning motion.
Bails- Large iron tongs suspended from a crane, used to lift off
the upper stone of a pair for dressing or to make other adjustments to the
Balance rynd- curved iron bar that crosses the eye of the runner
millstone, fitting into slots or pockets on either side. Also called millstone
bridge or crossbar. Also see rynd.
Bed stone- the lower stationary millstone in a pair of millstone.
Big wheel- see master face wheel.
Bill- see mill bill.
Bill thrift- a wooden handle with a slotted or mortised top into
which a mill bill can be fitted for use in dressing millstones. Usually
the mill bill is held tight into the slot by two small pieces of leather
positioned on the top and bottom of the slot against the metal of the bill.
Bins- storage containers for grain, usually on the upper floor of
a mill, from which grain could be fed into millstone hoppers. Also called
Bist- a cushion usually made of a partly filled sack of meal or bran,
used as a cushion by a worker (millstone dresser) when dressing the millstones.
Blades- in general, panels attached to a shaft to harness water or
wind power. Also used to refer specifically to the panels attached to the
spindle of the early Greek type of water mill. Also called vanes.
Blue stone- see Cullin stones.
Bolter- a type of flour dresser machine that can have a varity of
Bottle weight- wooden shaped piece of turned wood. It is attached
to a leather strap that is wrapped around the tentering staff and holds
the staff in a constant position to maintain the grind. Also see tentering
Bolter- a machine used to sift flour into lots of different textures
or degrees of fineness.
Bolting cloth- cloth of varying weave used to sift flour into lots
according to texture and size. Sometimes made of silk, and thus called "silks."
Bran- the outer coating of a grain of wheat, rye, barley, or corn.
Oats and buckwheat have an outer coating that is a "hull."
Bray or brayer- a linkage connecting the tentering staff and the
bridge tree. A lever beam on which the bridge tree rests thus creating a
Breast shot water wheel- a water wheel powered by a head of water
striking the wheel at the point from one-third to two-thirds the height
of the wheel, causing the wheel to revolve in a direction opposite to that
of the flow of the water in the sluice way or mill race.
Bridge- a metal bar cemented into eye of runner stone to act as bearing
for the top of the spindle.
Bridge tree- an adjustable beam upon which the millstone spindle
is supported. A tree lever beam which carries the lower end of the spindle
and thus bears the weight of the runner stone. It may be raised or lowered
to alter the distance between the grinding surfaces of the millstones in
order to produce a finer or coarser meal. Also see tentering staff also
called a lighter staff.
Bridging box- a housing, mounted on the bridge tree that contains
footstep bearings supporting the millstone spindle and ensuring that the
spindle will run perfectly upright. Also called a tram pot.
Buckets- the blades or enclosures formed by blades, around the rim
of a water wheel, against which or into the water flows. They called floats
or paddles when they are a single flat blade or surface. They generally
called elbow buckets or buckets if they are formed from a front plate or
blade and a bottom plate or bucket. The back of the bucket or enclosure
is created by the soling or drum boards.
Bucket water wheel- a water wheel using an enclosed bucket, rather
than a simple blade or float, to harness the water power.
Butterfly furrow- the smallest of the four millstone furrows in one
quarter of a millstone in quarter dress. Also see fly furrow.
Cant- a segment of one of the rings which form the rim of a water
wheel or wooden gear wheel. In a water wheel the cant is the piece that
has the mortise cut into it to hold the ends of the water wheel float or
Casting- see stone case or vat.
Circular furrow dress pattern- see sickle dress pattern.
Cockeye- a socket at the center of a balance rynd, which serves as
supporting bearing for the runner millstone and at which the point on that
it is balanced on.
Cock head- a pivot point at the top of the millstone spindle which
fits into the cockeye.
Cologne stones- see Cullin stones.
Conical quern- a quern composed of two conical shaped stones. The
top portion of the upper stone being the hopper shaped for feeding the grain
between the grinding surfaces. The upper stone was turned by a lever. Also
called hourglass mill or Roman mill.
Control gate- a gate at the end of the flume or sluice box nearest
to the water wheel, used to control the flow of water from the box to the
wheel. Also called a shut.
Counter-gearing (counter gears)- a system of two-step gears using
a combination of face or spur gears and wallowers to drive millstone spindles.
Cracks- fine lines cut into the face or land of a millstone in the
areas between the furrows.
Cracking- cutting the fine grooves (drills, feathering or stitching)
along the lands of a millstone.
Cirb (cribbing)- a track plate on which the millstone cover fits
enclosing the millstones and adding in directing the ground meal down a
chute. The curb is made in wooden sections fitted around the lower bed millstones
and is nailed to the flooring. Between the edge of the millstone and the
curbing is usually stuffed with form of caulking and rags.
Crossbar- see balance rynd.
Crown wheel- a horizontal gear wheel engaging with the vertical gear
Cullin stones- German millstones of dark bluish gray lava with even
pores. The name is derived form a corruption of Koln, the German name for
the city called Cologne in English. The millstones are also known as Blue
stones, Cologne stones, Dutch or Holland stones, or Rhine stones.
Custom mill- a relatively small milling operation that ground enough
flour and meal to satisfy the needs of a local community. The miller is
paid in kind, keeping a percentage of the ground meal for himself. The "miller
toll" is set by law and ranged from 10 to 20 percent. These small mills
became known as custom mills and thus grinding for the custom of their customers
whether it was coarse to fine grinding.
Damsel- a square or round shaft made of either wood or combination
of wood and metal and it may be made of all metal. It has squared section
of a rounded shaft, or forked iron shaft fit over the top of the millstone
spindle, which in rotating taps against the shoe, thus feeding grain into
the millstones. A contraption above the bridge on under-driven stones which
cause the shoe to wobble, shaking grain down into the eye.
Draft- the radius of the draft circle.
Draft circle- an imaginary circle around the eye of a millstones,
from which the master furrows radiate tangentially.
Drawing out- the process by which mill bills are thinned out at their
Dress- the layout or pattern of furrows on a millstone. Also used
with respect to flour to mean "sift."
Dresser- the name of the person who works on the millstone furrows
or cracking. Also used as the name of the machine that bolts or sifts flour
as in dresser or dressing machine.
Dressing- the process of cutting grooves (cracks or furrows) into
the face of the millstone, in order to provide a shearing action in grinding,
or sharpening the existing dress. Also called facing.
Driver- a cast iron bar that has been worked by a blacksmith to fit
onto the millstone spindle. The ends of the driver fit into slots or pockets
in the eye of the runner stone thus connect the runner stone to the spindle
and causes it to turn or rotate.
Drum boards- see sole.
Ending stones- a pair of small diameter millstones used in a form
of cleaning grains by rubbing before common usage and invention of cleaning
machines. They were used to remove dirt, dust, fungus, smut or anything
that might be attached to the surface of the grain. Then sifting was necessary
before actual grinding.
Esopus stones- millstones produced by the Esopus Millstone Company,
composed of Shawangunk Conglomerate Grit.
Eye- the center hole in a millstone. In the runner millstone the
eye us always round and the in the bed stone the center hole may be either
round or square depending upon what type of millstone bearing housing is
Eye staff- a shorter type of paint staff, usually about two feet
in length, used to test the surface of the millstones around the eye.
Face gear (face wheel)- a gear wheel with cogs mortised into its
face, usually used in conjunction with a lantern pinion.
Facing- usually, dressing around the eye section of millstones. Also
Facing hammer- a tool resembling a multiple edged chisel used for
dressing or facing a millstone. This hammer take down the surface of the
millstone, used in dishing the center of the millstone. Also called a bush
Fall (of water)- see head (of water).
Feather edge- the grinding edge at the top of the tapered furrow.
Feathering- see cracking.
Feed shoe- it guides grain from hopper into eye of stone.
Flour dresser machine- a machine for separating flour from the rest
of the ground meal.
Flume- a trough or channel which carries water from the head race
to the point where the water strikes or enters the water wheel. Also called
sluice way, sluice box or lade.
Flume gate- a gate at the end of the flume nearest to the head race
or mill pond, used to control the flow of water entering the flume. Also
called sluice gate or head gate, and sometimes used interchangeably with
control gate or shut.
Fly furrow- see butterfly furrow.
Footstep bearing- a thrust bearing, housed in bridging box, which
supports the millstone spindle atop the bridge tree, or the bottom bearing
of an upright or vertical shaft.
French burr (buhr) millstones- millstones composed of separate pieces
(small blocks) of freshwater quarts, each piece known as a burr, quarried
in northern France. The principal quarried being located in and around La
Ferte-sous-Jouarre near the town of Chalons in the Marne Valley located
in the Paris basin.
Furrow- a groove cut into the grinding sufrace or land of the millstone.
The pattern of dress on the surface of millstones.
Furrowing stick- a wooden stick or straight edge used to mark out
the line of the furrow used in dressing the millstones.
Garners- see bins.
Grain hopper- a hopper above the vat which holds the grain to be
Greater face wheel- see master face wheel.
Great spur (greater face) wheel- a spur gear used to transfer power
from the main vertical spindle through lantern or spur pinions to millstone
spindles in the form of two-step gearing known as spur gear drive. A spur
wheel mounted near the bottom of the upright shaft, it meshes with the stone
nuts to drive the millstones. Also provides drive to other subsidiary machinery.
Greek mill- a simple, early form of horizontal mill, in which a horizontal
water wheel with spoon shaped blades is attached to the millstone spindle
and drives the runner millstone directly, without requiring any form of
Grey stones- see Peak stones.
Gristmill or grist mill- a mill for the grinding of grain, principally
wheat or corn. This term is most often referred to a custom mill.
Gudgeon- a metal journal mounted in the end of the main shaft to
run in bearings mainly on a water wheel but gudgeons take on other shapes
and forms mounted into small shafts either horizontal or vertical.
Head (of water)- the difference in level between water entering
the water wheel and that leaving the water wheel. Also called fall (of water).
Head water- water entering or feeding the water wheel from the stream.
Head gates- the control gates that are located at the mill dam and
at the head of the head race or mill race.
Head race- a channel which conveys water from the dam or mill pond
to the flume, sluice box or directly to the water wheel.
Holland stones- see Cullin stones.
Hoop- see stone case or vat.
Hopper- an open topped container tapered to feed grain into the millstones.
Hopper ladder- see horse.
Horizontal mill- a water mill whose wheel revolves in a horizontal
plane but whose main power shaft is vertical in the mill. Also see Greek
mill, and Norse mill.
Horse- a wooden framework on top of the millstone case or cover which
holds the hopper, shoe and (the top end of the) damsel in position. Also
called hopper ladder.
Hourglass mill- see conical quern.
Hulling stones- a small pair of millstones with a simple dress pattern
used to separate the hulls away from the inner seed or kernel. For example
hulling stones are used on oats and buckwheat to remove the indigestible
Hunting cog- a cog inserted in gearing system to avoid simple gear
ratios and thereby avert potential uneven wear due to inequalities in rapidly
meeting the same gear faces or teeth. It is termed hunting cog because it
is always hunting for new cogs to mesh with.
Hurst or husk frame- the timber framework that supports the millstones
and gears. It is mounted on a separate and independent foundation from the
mill so the vibration of the machinery does not bring down the mill around
Jack stick- see quill stick and trammel.
Journeyman furrow- the second largest furrow in a quarter of a millstone
in quarter dress pattern, parallel and immediately adjacent to the master
furrow on one side and the apprentice furrow on the other side.
Lade- see flume.
Lands- the areas between the furrows on the grinding surface of a
millstone. The high parts of pattern on the surfaces of millstones.
Lantern pinion- a pinion gear consisting of round staves or rungs
mortised between two discs, used either as a wallower, or as a millstone
pinion or nut.
Lay-shaft- a shaft set at right angles to the master (or greater)
face wheel which transfers drive to little face wheel in counter-gearing,
or parallel driven shaft when master wheel is a spur gear wheel. A lay shaft
can also be located on the upper floor of the mill driven from cog and crown
wheels to operate the secondary machinery found in a mill.
Lesser face wheel- see little face wheel.
Lighter staff-see tentering staff.
Little (lesser) face wheel- a face wheel which transfers drive from
a lay shaft to millstone spindles in counter-gearing.
Mace- a device used to connect the quant or millstone spindle
to the runner millstone in some under drift millstone drives.
Main shaft- a vertical shaft from wallower to spur wheel.
Master face wheel- a face wheel mounted on the water wheel shaft
in counter-gearing; used to transfer power to the lay shafts via lantern
pinions. Also called greater face wheel or big wheel.
Master furrow- the largest furrow in a quarter of a millstone in
quarter dress, determining the boundary of the quarter.
Middlings- the coarsest part of the wheat meal ground by a mill;
the last product excepting the bran remaining after finer grades of flour
are sifted out in the bolting process. A mediocre grade of flour, or the
middle grade of flour. A intermediate product from flour dressing. Also
called midds. Also see sharps and shorts.
Middling stones- a small pair of millstones that operated at a faster
speed to regrind middlings in a "new process" mill. These millstones
often used a silent feed system rather than the traditional millstone feed
of the damsel and the shoe.
Mill bill- a chisel ended tool used for dressing or sharpening the
grinding surface of a millstones. Also called mill chisel.
Mill pick- see mill pick.
Miller's toll- the portion of ground meal retained by the miller
as payment for his services. In the United states, usually ten to twenty
per cent of the meal ground was the accepted toll. In other words one-eight
for corn and one-sixth for wheat. Local law governed how much the miller
could take in tolling. In England, usually it was one-sixteenth.
Milling soke- the manorial law governing ownership, building and
usage of mills.
Mill pond- a body of water, usually created by the construction of
a dam, which serves as a source of water for the water wheel. The mill pond
may recharge itself during the night when the mill is not operating.
Millstone bridge- see balance rynd.
Millstone Grit- the name given by British millers to the rock quarried
in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, England, used in making Peak or Grey millstones.
Millstone pinion- see nut or stone nut.
Millstones- the pair of stones which grind the grain.
Mortar and pestle- a simple grinding apparatus in which a receptacle
(mortar) is used to hold grain while it is crushed by a club-shaped implement
Mortise wheel- an iron wheel with wooden cogs mortised into it.
Neck bearing- a wooden bearing in the center of the bed stone,
through which the millstone spindle passes.
Norse mill- a horizontal mill similar to the Greek mill, but with
straight inclined blades to facilitate the removal of ice in winter. The
wheel is attached to the millstone spindle and drives the runner millstone
directly, without requiring any form of gearing.
Nut- a pinion mounted on the millstone spindle in under drift millstone
drive. Also called a millstone pinion, stone pinion and stone nut.
Open stones- are coarse uncut millstones.
Over drift millstone drive- a method of driving or turning millstones
by bringing power down from above by means of a quant or millstone spindle
connected from above to the runner stone. This method of operating millstones
is found generally in wind mills rather than in water mills.
Overdrift mill- a mill with runner stone driven from above, most
often a windmill.
Over shot water wheel- a water wheel powered by a head of water striking
the wheel just behind its vertical center or just forward of its vertical
center of its highest point of rotation. Thus causing the water wheel to
revolve in the same direction as the flow of water in the sluice box or
Paint staff- a straight wooden staff to which a marking paint
(raddle or tiver) is applied. It is used to test the level surface on millstones
and to create the dishing effect in the center of the millstones. It uses
a proof staff as a gage for its trueness.
Pair (of millstones or stones)- a set of two millstones, consisting
of an upper or runner millstone and the lower or bed stone. Also called
a run (of stones).
Peak stone- millstones produced from rock commonly called Millstone
Grist quarried in the Peak District of southwest Yorkshire and northeast
Derbyshire in England. Also called Grey stones.
Peck- see mill pick.
Pick- see mill pick.
Pinion- see lantern pinion, nut.
Pit wheel- a large face gear wheel (vertical bevel wheel) mounted
on the water wheel shaft and located in a pit or gear pit. It drives the
wallower gear on the bottom of the main vertical shaft.
Pitch back water wheel- a water wheel powered by a head of water
striking the water wheel at or just back of its highest point, causing the
water wheel to "pitch back," or revolve in a direction opposite
to that of the flow of water in the sluice box or sluice way. This water
wheels at times also have a breast or apron to prevent wind from blowing
water out of the buckets.
Plumping mill- a mill harnessed the flow of water into and out of
a receptacle to drive a mortar and pestle.
Pritchell- a mill bill that is pointed on each end rather than having
a squared cutting chisel end. It is commonly used to dress hulling stones.
Also see mill peck.
Proof staff- a metal straight edge or gage used to check the true
of a paint staff.
Quarter- a section of the surface of a millstone defined by master
furrows, not necessarily one-fourth the surface area of a millstone.
Quarter dress- a form of millstone dress using a series of straight
furrows, the largest of which divide the surface of the millstone into regions
Quern- a simple form of rotary grist mill, consisting of a stationary
lower bed stone and an upper runner stone usually rotated by hand with the
aid of a stick or lever fastened to the upper stone.
Quill stick- a flat piece of wooden with a hole to accommodate a
feather quill in one end, and the other has a square hole that fits onto
the millstone spindle. It is used to test the millstone spindle for true,
upright running. Also called jack stick, tram stick and trammel.
Raddle- a mixture of red oxide or lamp black powder and water,
used on a paint staff. The material will mark (indicate) the high spots
(raised areas) on a millstone. Also call tiver.
Rap- the block on the shoe against which the damsel strikes (causing
shoe to agitate) to ensure an even flow of grain from the hopper to the
millstones. This is usually made of hard wood while the shoe is made of
soft pine. It is replaceable so the whole shoe does not need to be remade
when the rap wears down. At times the rap is covered with a leather strap
to quilt the sounds of the damsel against the shoe.
Rhine stones- see Cullin stones.
Rim- see shroud.
Rim plate- the outer covering of the sandwiched sections of the felloe,
cant and shroud boards. A piece of either wooden or metal plate molding
that cover the outer edges to protect the wood and its layers from damage
by water and ice. This covering is either screwed down or bolted down tight
against the circumference of both rims of the water wheel. This covering
also keeps the front bucket board in place.
Run (of stones)- see pair (of stones).
Runner (mill) stone- the upper, moving millstone in a pair of millstones.
Rynd (rind)- a crossbar containing the bearing on which the upper
runner stone of a pair of millstones rests and is balanced.
Sack hoist- a method of hoisting sacks or barrels vertically in
a mill using a gear driven system or a windlass barrel hoist system. It
was used to lift sacks from carts, wagons, boats, and lower floors of the
mill. At first sack hoist were simple and eventually became quite elaborate
with wooden friction clutches or slack leather belt mechanisms, which permitted
engaging or disengaging by control ropes from the point were the sacks were
taken into the mill or from any floor. Also see windlass barrel.
Saddle stone mill- a simple grinding apparatus in which meal is ground
between a saddle-shaped stone and a rounded stone which is rolled over it.
Sapling mill- a form of plumping mill in which the resiliency of
a sapling is used as an aid for driving a mortar and pestle mill.
Secondary furrows- furrows shorter than and running parallel to the
master furrows in a quarter dress.
Shaker arm- the long arm (end) attached to shoe which contacts damsel.
Sharps- see middlings.
Shoe- a tapering trough vibrated (moving) to feed grain into the
eye of the runner stone for grinding and then between the two millstones.
Shorts- see middlings.
Shroud (shrouding)- the rim of a water wheel, which forms the sides
of the bucket enclosures.
Shut- see control gate.
Sickle dress- a form of millstone dress using a series of semi circular
furrows of the same radius as the millstones. Also called circular furrow
dress. This is the most common millstone dress used on Rhine stones.
Silks- see bolting cloth.
Silk machine- a flour dresser with a silk sleeve.
Skirt- the outer edge of the grinding surface of a millstone.
Slip cog- a removable cog (or series of several cogs) in a pinion
gear to take a gear out of mesh or to disengage one gear from another.
Sluice- a wooden box that is held together by a series of wooden
frames. It is often mounted on a wooden piers and carries water over valleys
to maintain the height of the water from its source to the water wheel.
Sluice box- see sluice.
Sluice gate- see flume gate.
Sluice way- see flume and sluice.
Sole (soling)- the inner lining of a water wheel, forming bottom
of the bucket. Also called drum board, sole boards.
Spindle- the shaft on which the runner millstone rotates.
Spur gear (spur wheel)- a gear with cogs mortised or cut into its
Spur gear drive- a system of two-step gearing using a system of face
gears, spur gears, and lantern or spur pinions to drive millstone spindles.
Starts- the short spurs or arms projecting from the rim of a water
wheel, to which the floats are fastened.
Stitching- see cracking.
Stone case- a circular wooden enclosure around a pair of millstones.
Also called casing, hoop, husk, tun, and vat.
Stone dresser- a man whose profession it is to re-sharpen or dress
Stone nut- a pinion wheels mounted on a spindle which are moved into
gear with the great spur wheel to drive the millstones.See nut.
Stone pinion- see nut.
Sweep- a staft connecting mortar to a box which fills with water
in a water-driven plumping mill.
Sweeper- a device attached to the runner stone outer lower edge which
sweeps meal from between the edges of the stones and the stone case and
carries the meal around to the chute opening inside of the case.
Tag- or sweepers are attachment to the edge of the runner stone
which sweeps the meal in the vat into chutes to bins below.
Tail race- the lower portion of a mill race or channel. It is the section
that returns water back to the mill stream after is has flowed through the
Tail water- the water leaving the water wheel and returning to the
Tentering- the process of adjusting the distance (gap) between the
upper and lower millstones by raising or lowering the brayer and consequently
the bridge tree which rests on it, carrying the lower end of the spindle.
Also called tentering staff.
Tentering screw- used for adjusting distance between the stones by
moving tentering mechanism by hand. It came into usage during Oliver Evan's
Tentering staff- A beam, or handle connected to the bridge tree by
the brayer, permitting the bridge tree to be raised or lowered and thus
adjusting the distance between the upper and lower millstones. Also called
a lighter staff. Also see bottle weight.
Thrift- a handles to hold mill bills.
Tide (tidal) mill- a water mill harnessing energy from tidal water
which floods basins or river valleys at high tide.
Tiver- a red ochre used for marking millstones. See raddle.
Tracer- a wooden staff used to check true movement of spindle. See
Trammel- see quill stick.
Tram pot- see bridging box.
Tram stick- see quill stick.
Trundle- a lantern pinion on a millstone spindle in counter-gearing,
or a pinion resembling a smaller version of a face gear.
Tub mill- a water mill with a horizontal wheel enclosed to its full
depth with a wooden casing or open top and bottom tub.
Tun- see stone case.
Two-step gearing (two-step gear train)- a system of interlocking
gears designed to permit several pairs of millstones to be driven from a
single water wheel.
Under drift drive- a method of driving or turning millstones by
bringing power up from the below by means of a millstone spindle connected
from below to the runner stone through the eye of the bed stone. This method
is only found in a few wind mills and is more common in water mills.
Under shot water wheel- a water wheel powered by a head of water
striking the wheel at the point near the bottom of the wheel, causing the
wheel to revolve in the direction opposite to that of the flow of water
in the sluice box or mill race.
Upright shaft- see main shaft.
Vat- see stone case.
Vertical mill (vertical water wheel)- a mill with a vertical mounted
water wheel on a horizontally mounted axle. The undershot, breast shot and
over shot are the forms of this type of water wheel.
Wallower- the first driven gear wheel in a water or wind mill,
driven by a gear wheel mounted onto the main water wheel or wind shaft.
Warning bell- a bell (once found in many early American Mills) which
rings when the grain content of the hopper gets too low.
Windlass barrel- this is a continously turning round barrel shaped
shaft in which the rope is slack and turned around the barrel. The other
end of the rope is over a pulley unually on the underside of a beam which
is projected from the gable end of the roof under a hood and over a series
of doorways on each floor. Also see sack hoist.
Wire machine- a machine for separating flour from the rest of the
meal and is covered with mesh wire.
(Wooden) proof- a wooden level for checking surface of millstones.
See proof staff.
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